Europe 1987

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Europe 1987

Today was a hot, sunny day, but after a good breakfast, a very lengthy payment process, and a visit to the tourism office to book tonight’s accommodation, we finally managed to leave Varna at 10:00am.  Our first excursion was back north to Albena for the children to play on the beach.  Liesl and Phillip enjoyed swimming, while Tim played in the sand with a Belgian boy of similar age (or more correctly, Tim played with the Belgian boys’ toys).

We had lunch at the beach in Albena and then set off on the 250 kilometre drive to our destination for the day, the old town of Veliko Tǔrnovo (also called Veliko Târnovo).  We drove through Varna once again, and as we were stopped to wait our turn at a major intersection with traffic lights, we watched as a tan-orange Lada drove at full speed into the rear of a slower lime-green Wartburg Tourist.  No-one was injured, and it was interesting to see that the tough Lada emerged from the altercation in much better shape than the shattered Wartburg Tourist.  Phil was the winner of that day’s “spot the Wartburg Tourist” competition, with bonus points for knowing that the offending vehicle was a Lada.

We completed the drive with minimal stops – indeed, not a single photo was taken during the day’s drive – and we arrived at about 6:00pm.  Veliko Tǔrnovo is located across three hills beside the deeply incised Yantra (or Jantra) River with the ruins of an old Turkish castle on the middle hill.  It is an outrageously picturesque town.

When we arrived, we discovered that the only hotel we had been able to book ahead from Varna that morning was the 4-star Hotel Veliko Tǔrnovo, the town’s top hotel.  Constructed of ugly concrete at 2 Emil Popov Street, right beside the river in socialist brutalism style, it was an absolute eyesore that marred the beautiful historic surroundings of Veliko Tǔrnovo.  At a cost of £77 for the night, it really stretched the budget, but it was comfortable, and certainly better than the alternative, which would have been another night in car.  It was far too soon for that!

We had pizza for dinner and then went for a walk through some of the old, winding streets.  It was enchanting in the golden light of the late afternoon, with the houses and streets oozing charm.  Many of the houses have frescoes in various traditional styles on their walls, and the views across the river were gorgeous.

Day 22

Varna to Veliko Tǔrnovo

Monday 3 August 1987